Healthy Communities

Health is more than healthcare. Health is shaped by the places where we live, learn, work and play.

Improving conditions in our homes, schools, workplaces and communities will create greater opportunities for people to lead healthy lives.

The Healthy Communities Initiative fosters collaboration between the health and community development sectors. Recognizing that economic, social and physical environments have huge implications for our opportunity to be healthy, the Initiative strives to strengthen partnerships between those who work to improve neighborhood conditions and those who focus on improving health outcomes over the life course.

The Federal Reserve System and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation created the Healthy Communities initiative to bring together New Resources, New Partners, and New Ideas, in order to move the health and community development sectors together towards a healthier future.

New Resources. As conventional health funders begin to understand the strong relationship between physical environments and health outcomes, there are many new potential partnerships between health-oriented foundations and new government programs. Harmonizing these new funding streams with the traditional community development programs—such as investment and lending motivated by the Community Reinvestment Act, New Markets Tax Credits, and Low Income Housing Tax Credits—will be both a challenge and an opportunity. Innovating new directions with existing funds will be equally challenging, requiring creative energy from both fields.

New Partners. The important work of the housing and community development sector could be much more effective when joined with other partners (e.g. early care and education programs and nutrition programs). Success requires sharing of knowledge between many sectors, with health and community development being the most immediately promising.

New Ideas. The health sector has a much more sophisticated approach to data collection and outcomes measurement. Community development could learn much in this area. Similarly, as the health sector tries to improve nutrition and recreation opportunities in low-income neighborhoods, it can learn from the sophisticated and networked approach community development uses to implement its programs.

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